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Jesus' Parables Paint His Portrait

Matthew 13; Luke 8,13 

Commentary by Lynne Hilton Wilson Ph.D. 


 Jesus' Parables Paint His Portrait 


The Gospel of Matthew has five discourses. Chapter 13 is Matthew’s third and central discourse on “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11). It acts as the turning point, or middle, of Matthew’s Gospel. Consistent with other ancient chiastic literature, the messages at the center point are very important to the author’s theology.


Matthew’s organization points to his messages that are central to Jesus’ mission, which are the coming of the kingdom of heaven and what it takes to enter. Many of the parables in Matthew’s Gospel begin with this phrase: “the kingdom of heaven is like . . .” (which Matthew’s Gospel repeats 8 times in Matthew 13:24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47, 52; 20:1–2). This pattern is unique to Matthew; even when Luke and Mark share the same parables, they do not include this phrase. 







Matthew’s Gospel places Jesus’ sermon directly after several examples of unbelief (Matthew 11–12). Perhaps this is why the sermon is filled with parables—eight in chapter 13 alone! These eight parables come as twins—two about sowing, two about food, two kinds of treasure, two kinds of bringing forth. Joseph Smith saw them as speaking of the gathering of prepared Israel. The other Gospels place the same parables in different locations. 


Perhaps Matthew organized the pairs as “two witnesses.” The parables teach the impatient the need for patience. Matthew 13 also draws attention to Jesus’ parables fulfilling Old Testament (OT) prophecy (Matthew 13:14–15, 35). 


The Gospel of Luke places many of Jesus’ parables as dialogue along the journey as the Twelve and several noble women traveled with, and financially supported, Jesus’ ministry across Galilee (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Suzanne are specifically mentioned, along with “many others,” Luke 8:2–3). The cost of discipleship rings through these verses.​

Who Hath Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear”


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